I was recently asked by a colleague how one would go about writing and publishing a book. Here is my story, a few weeks away from the self publication of my first novel.
I've been very curious lately about the book publishing process. What are the steps necessary to getting writing material onto the shelves? With our continued progress on Frantic Froggy and seeing the evolution of the "Reaper" [That's my book, being designed by my super amazing company ApogeeINVENT], it's gotten me itchy to know how all that works and perhaps even apply it myself in the future.
I had those same types of questions myself as I was doing industry researching and connecting with authors for FranticFroggy. That is why I decided to write a book, which became Reaper. It is like learning a language - you never truly learn it until you immerse yourself, and I have learned so much about the process over the past ten months. I'll give you a quick rundown.
Traditional vs Self Publishing
While traditional publishing may offer a small advance and will cover the costs of editing and book design, formatting, and printing, you will also get a very small cut of the royalties. Most traditional authors get around 20% if they are lucky, and this is usually after the publishing company has recouped their investment. The traditional publishing process also requires you to seek an agent (in most cases, their are some rare exceptions where a writer will be accepted without first contracting with an agent), and you will need to create a book proposal, and even show their is an interest in your author brand before a company will consider your work.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, gives you complete control of the process, but you will also need to cover all your own costs. However, a savvy writer will be able to keep their costs down to a minimum. And with services like CreateSpace and Smashwords, and POD (print on demand), your book will appear in almost all the sames places a traditionally published book will appear. Additionally, the average amount a publishing company will spend on marketing is under $800, so most traditionally published authors do all their own marketing, anyway.
The Self Publishing process:
Write your book.
It sounds overwhelming, but once you sit down and start pounding it out, it actually went really fast for me (and this is writing late at night, in the car while picking my daughter up from preschool, and early mornings before the kiddos got up). Sometimes the most difficult part is sitting down and writing that first chapter.
Get some feedback.
They call it "beta readers", and I found a great group on Goodreads that lets you post your book or parts of it and people read it and provide feedback. A word of caution - some of these readers are very cruel and will almost crush your dreams of publishing. You can't please everyone, so it is important to sift through the feedback. And try to find readers that actually like your genre - it helps get more accurate feedback.
Get it edited.
I am a terrible hypocrite. I always tell authors to get their book edited professionally, but I didn't do this. There will probably be some errors in my published book, but I've found the industry to be growing much more forgiving because of the amount of self-published books. I just didn't want to spend the money, but you could probably find a decent editor for $100 - $300. (A developmental edit would probably cost you more, but isn't always necessary.)
Book Cover Design.
While going through the editing process, seek our a book designer or work on designing the cover yourself (I know alot of authors that design their own covers).
Once your book and cover are completed, and you've written a really catchy book description, you can submit it for reviews (you can also do this after it is published). Publisher's Weekly and other independent reviewers will usually review indie writers.
At this time, you might want to consider setting up your marketing. Website, social media sites, whatever type of marketing you feel comfortable doing. I've heard the key to success is building a good mailing list through special offers or Facebook promotions. I haven't tried this out for myself yet.
There some different publishing platforms you can use, but CreateSpace (Amazon) is the most popular. Smashwords doesn't allow extended distribution, and I've found alot of the content on Smashwords to be junk.
It is simple to format and enter your book into CreateSpace; they offer a great step-by-step process and lots of help materials. Once you've entered everything into createspace, you can set your publishing date, choose the type of ISBN you want, select extended distribution (which will allow it to appear on other locations, such as Barnes and Noble.com), and you are now a published author!
Then the real work begins: promoting your book and building your author brand.
I recommend using the digital marketing techniques Apogee uses to promote your book: website, blog, social media, building a list using a free offer, and Amazon 99 cent promotions that you submit to sites like readfree.ly or Read Cheaply. You can do book signing events or book trade shows, but it can be difficult to recoup your expenses.
I hope you found this useful. If you have specific questions, please ask!